From the excitement of meeting mascot Desmond the Dragon at her first game to following
the team across the country and presenting a podcast on the club, Rochdale AFC have held
a special place in Charlotte Cromarty’s heart since she was four years old.
“At that age, Desmond and the pies were the only reason I wanted to go to the football with
my dad!” she recalls.
“Then, as I started going more and I got older, that’s when it became about the football and
enjoying the game.”
Charlotte, who is Rochdale’s Her Game Too Ambassador, became a season ticket holder in
1998, when she fell in love with the buzz of “being part of something”.
“When my mum and dad split up, I was really young and it was mine and my dad’s thing to
go to home and away matches.
“That’s when I really did become passionate about the sport - it felt like home and I was
excited to go to football every weekend.”
She’s seen two promotions, a play off final, enjoyed trips to Wembley and giant-killing cup
runs, but also experienced the lows of relegation heartache - including recently finishing
bottom of League Two to be relegated to the National League.
“I’m really worried as we have never been in this position before and listening to other fans
who have been in the same position, it’s really difficult to come back up.”
Charlotte went “religiously” to every game between 1998 and 2015, when she became a
mum, and she’s travelled as far afield as Torquay, Southampton, Portsmouth and Plymouth
to away games.
While she counts herself as “extremely fortunate” to not have been subjected to sexist abuse at games, she has experienced negativity online.
“My bad experiences have always been on social media when I’ve expressed my views and
opinions on a game, which other people haven’t agreed with and I’ve had the usual ‘get back in the kitchen’, ‘make me a sandwich’, ‘you’re a woman, shut up’."
She has also received abuse about the way she looks, from both male and female football
fans, after posting photos of her wearing football shirts online and been labelled “the ugly
one” in the Her Game Too Rochdale volunteer team.
“That really knocked my confidence.
“I want to be remembered for making a positive change for females and the future
generation, as well as being free to speak my own mind and give opinions, so being called
‘ugly’ for doing that really isn’t fair.”
After seeing Rochdale partner with Her Game Too in October 2021, Charlotte was inspired
to start ‘The Dale Way’ podcast with fellow supporter, Isabelle Whiteley, and they invited Her
Game Too Co-Founder and Bristol Rovers Ambassador Lucy Ford to be their first guest.
“We released a trailer which everybody went crazy over and then, when we released our first
episode, everyone wanted us on their channels and podcasts and we were approached to
do a feature in Rochdale’s matchday programme, so we just kept talking about and
supporting the Her Game Too campaign on those platforms as well as on social media.”
She was encouraged to apply to become Rochdale’s Her Game Too Ambassador and
received the news she’d been chosen on her birthday in March last year.
“I struggle with my mental health, I have anxiety and depression, but being an ambassador
and putting my efforts and passion into something really does help on my down days - I feel
like I have something to look forward to and work for.”
On matchdays, Charlotte chats to young fans about their experiences of watching and
playing football and she and her fellow volunteers have Her Game Too flags and a prop
board for photo opportunities.
She also attends community workshops the club is running to talk about the campaign, has
helped to organise a drop-off point for people to donate sanitary products and there is a
dedicated Her Game Too page in each matchday programme featuring female fans of both
Rochdale and their opposition team.
Charlotte has enjoyed working in partnership with her club to put on dedicated Her Game
Too fixtures and enlist Rochdale goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell as the first male professional
footballer Her Game Too Player Advocate.
Her favourite part of being an ambassador is receiving messages from parents saying she
and Her Game Too have helped to inspire their daughters to play and enjoy watching
“Our Rochdale Ladies Under-10s won the North Manchester Winter Cup and I was invited to
their medal ceremony to talk about Her Game Too and present their medals.
“That was honestly brilliant and a favourite memory of mine - the happiness and smiles on
their faces that night, hearing how much they love playing football and the friendships these
girls have made while playing the sport they love is just so refreshing.”
Podcasting has become a huge part of Charlotte’s life over the past two football seasons
and helped to boost her mental health.
She is involved in both ‘The Dale Way’, which focuses on Rochdale from a female’s point of
view, and ‘The Absolute Football Podcast’, in which a team of presenters analyse matches
from the Premier League, English Football League and European leagues.
“I’ve always been open about my struggles with anxiety and depression and podcasting has
helped me massively with my confidence.
“I work full-time and have my two boys, but I used to struggle at night when the kids were in
bed because I never really had anything to do.
“The pair of them and work are my life, but then podcasting really did help me and still does.
“It’s a social life for me, gives me the chance to talk about football, but also gives
opportunities to make friends and speak to people who also have the same passions.”
‘The Absolute Football Podcast’ is live on YouTube and Twitch every Monday and Thursday
at 8pm and listeners can interact and share their views through live chat - something
Charlotte says has helped to create a welcoming community who regularly follow the
She would love to see Her Game Too partner with all 92 league clubs in England and for
them all to have at least one player advocate championing the campaign.
“I just want Her Game Too to keep getting the recognition it deserves because it really is
making a positive impact and changes for the better.
“There’s so much I still want to do at Rochdale, but the main thing is for people to enjoy
coming to football and playing football.
“I just want females to feel confident doing what they love and be able to express
themselves and not be scared.
“We are extremely lucky at Rochdale because there’s been nothing but support for the
campaign, so I would love to be able to welcome new fans from the community and far and
wide to come to a game and hopefully they will share the same positive experiences and
make the friendships I have while watching the sport we love.”